Sathar Military Organization

Printer-friendly version

by Tom Stephens

Author’s note: This briefing is intended to take place sometime after the First Sathar War that prompted the formation of the UPF but before the Second Sathar War.  As the Second Sathar War hasn't happened yet, the terminology reflects this.

Introduction

Welcome, I am proud to present today's keynote speaker, Dr. Reesta Lar, who also holds a commission as a Commander in Starfleet and leads Starfleet's Sathar Starship Study Division, which I'll admit, we didn't even know existed until a few months ago when the initial results of the studies Dr. Lar will be presenting were announced.

Dr. Lar holds a Ph.D in Sathar Studies from the Triad Institute of Technology where she did her thesis entitled "An Analysis of Sathar Fleet Deployment in the Battles of the Sathar War."  Since then she has served as a Starfleet officer on active duty with Task Force Cassidine and Strike Force Nova and as part of the Frontier Expeditionary Force.  For the past several years she has served on and then led the Sathar Starship Study Division.

Recently, Dr. Lar and her colleagues announced the discovery of an intact sathar destroyer from the Sathar War.  Today she will present her team's findings from that ship, Dr. Lar.

Thank you, Dr. Laurwence.  And thank you to everyone in the audience who are here to listen to these recent findings.  They are both exciting and terrifying at the same time.  Let's start with some background.

Background

As you are all aware, in the decisive final battle of the Sathar War around the planet we now know as Morgaine's World, there were hundreds of ships lost on both sides and many sathar ships fled at the battle's end.  It is also well known that sathar ships, rather than be boarded, detonate their engines to completely obliterate the ship.  This seems to be an automatic response that is also triggered when the ship is destroyed in battle.  There are many reports from the War of sathar ships that were cut to ribbons which then subsequently detonated their engines destroying the fragments.

However, a careful study of the details of the battle, which I did as part of my doctoral dissertation, shows that not every destroyed ship detonated.  It turns out that there were two ships from that final battle, both destroyed early in the fighting, that didn't detonate their engines.  These ships were both destroyed in the first hour of the battle and drifted out of the combat zone during the ensuing hours as the battle raged on.  Once it was over, no one was interested, let alone capable, of following up and looking for drifting hulks, especially given the fact that for the last many hours every sathar ship destroyed had been blowing itself up.  No one expected there to be anything to look for and so no one looked.

After I published the findings in my dissertation just over fifteen years ago, Spacefleet's S3 Division started looking for those ships, hoping to find one or both to study.  I was also offered a commission in Starfleet which I accepted not knowing about the S3 division or the search for the ships I had identified.

Starfleet has actually found both ships.  The first, a frigate, was discovered over a decade ago.  You haven't heard anything about it as there is nothing really to report.  The ship was discovered but it had crashed into one of the moons orbiting the outermost planet in the Prenglar system.  Apparently, it's velocity at the time of destruction put it on a long period orbit around Prenglar and as it was passing through the outer system, it collided with the moon.  All that is left is a big crater and shrapnel.  Very little of the ship survived. 

Destroyer Found

We were much more fortunate with the second ship.  This one is nearly intact.  It was finally discovered nearly 700 AU from Prenglar after years of careful survey work trying to locate it.  A year and a half ago, we were able to recover it and begin studying the ship and attempting to decipher the records and information contained on-board.  I'm here to present some preliminary findings.

First the ship.  It is a destroyer class vessel, roughly hull size 6, although about 18 percent bigger than a hull size 6 UPF destroyer.  One of the four engines were blown off during the battle and missing when the ship was found.  Beyond that, it had sustained significant hull damage, venting many of its decks to space.  Despite this, it was amazingly intact.  Much of the equipment was still functional once power was reapplied and many of the equipment stores were fully intact.

I'm not going to go into the details of the deck plans.  That will be covered in a separate technical report.  [Editor’s Note:  The Sathar Destroyer deck plans were originally going to be part of this issue.  However, with 25 decks and descriptions, it simply wouldn’t fit and will be made available in a special Frontier Explorer Presents issue before the end of the year.]  Nor am I going to go into detail about the recovery mission.  I'm not really in the mood to recount having to deal with hundreds of sathar bodies discovered as we searched the ship.  And yes, I said hundreds.  Plural. 

You see, the Sathar destroyer is a troop carrier.  Each ship is capable of carrying between 500 and 600 sathar ground troops and the shuttles needed to get them to the surface of a planet.  Additionally, it has pens for nearly a dozen attack monsters that can be shuttled down with the troops as well.  Each sathar destroyer represents a formidable ground force just waiting for somewhere to land.  I'll talk more about that in a bit but first let's step back a bit and discuss some of the other things we've learned.

Counting

It's been know from other Sathar specimens that Sathar have eight digits, four on each of their tentacles.  And, based on some captured equipment, it was suspected that they used a base eight number system.  Our work on the captured destroyer confirms that fact.  Everything we've found is based off a base eight system, from their equipment design to their personnel organization.  It all fits nicely with that system.

Military Organization

Based on a variety of sources, from the layout of the destroyer's decks, to the design of the three landing shuttles on board, to the equipment stores, and even some recovered computer files, we believe we've been able to reconstruct the basic organization of the Sathar ground forces.  At least on the smaller scales.

The basic combat unit seems to be a team of eight sathar, possibly divided into two groups of four. This platoon sized unit is led by one of its members that seems to rate slightly more or better equipment.  We found quite a number of pre-packaged equipment packs.  They were basically generic kits that the Sathar could grab on their way to their shuttles.  One of every eight had a bit more ammo and a radio as part of its composition as compared to the others, seeming to indicate a leader’s kit.

The next larger grouping seems to be a company sized unit composed of 8 platoons, for a total of 64 ground troops.  This company seems to be led by a group of 4 officers.  These officers plus the ground troops make the company size 68 Sathar in total.  This is the unit size that the drop shuttles we found on board are designed to carry.  There were three drop shuttles on board but the ship had berths for 8.  We have no idea where the other five went.  They may have been lost in fighting on Pale or Laco, or used in an attempt to abandon ship after the fighting around Morgaine's world.

The destroyer had berthing space, life support, and shuttle capacity to sustain eight of these company sized units.  All the troops on board seem to make up a battalion, with eight additional Sathar in command at this level.  Eight 68 Sathar companies plus the 8 Sathar command staff brings the total battalion strength to 552 Sathar.

There may be higher organizational units in the Sathar ground forces but there has been no evidence found yet on board to suggest what these organizations are.  We can speculate that the groups of eight continue to larger units but beyond what I have presented it is pure guesswork.

In addition to these ground troops, the main body of the ship contained berths for a platoon of animal handlers, the shuttle crews – two per shuttle for a total of 16 – and what appeared to be two squad units of engineers or technicians.  All of which seemed to be in support of the ground troops.  Plus there were an additional 32 sathar that were the ship's crew.

Social Structure

Sathar Trooper by Don Freeman

There have been hints from other sources that the sathar are organized into various social levels, possibly along a caste system.  The life support and berthing found on board the ship support this idea and seem to indicate two or possibly three distinct social levels among the ground troops and crew of the ship.

Lower Class Sathar

The vast majority of berthing space on-board, that housed the 512 ground troop squad members, covered only three levels of the ship and consisted of three huge “slime pools”.  These were large pools of nutrient rich water that what we are calling the lower caste sathar seemed to live in when on the ship.  This seemed to be the whole of their world on-board.  

Middle Class Sathar

The company commanders seemed to be from a higher caste than the majority of ground troops.  We’re calling this the middle class.  Their accommodations were on a separate level and were fundamentally different than the lower caste sathar accommodations.

The slime pool was still present.  However, given the number of sathar housed on this level, it was much more spacious.  In addition, there were individual pool beds with attached computer/video systems and stand-alone computer systems for the sathar to use.  There were only 16 pool beds for the 32 sathar housed on this level so it seems that they had to take turns.  It would be called hot-bunking in Spacefleet.  I have no idea what term to use for the sathar.  Regardless, the quality of life of these sathar seemed to be significantly higher than that of the main body of ground troops.

Upper Class Sathar

Finally, the brigade commanders, the animal handlers, the shuttle crews and technicians and the rest of the ship’s crew seemed to form an upper class [Referee’s Note: These are actually still middle class sathar but are an “upper” middle class while the company commanders are a “lower” middle class.]  Each of these positions has a slightly larger pool bed and there seems to be a one-to-one correspondence between the crew members and the bed.  No hot-bunking for these sathar.  In addition, they have more computer facilities and more space allotted, although it is less than what would be typical on a UPF vessel.  It seems the sathar want, need, or tolerate much closer working conditions than the UPF races.

Ship Staffing

In all of the technical positions related to the operation of the ship, it seems that the Sathar operate on a two crew system.  Every position has two sathar assigned, we assume that they alternate duty cycles with one resting while the other works.

Also, for the most part, the crew “bunks” – their pool beds – are located right next to their duty stations.  Thus the controls for the laser battery were in the same room as the two pool beds for the crew that manned the system.  The engineers had their accommodations on the engineering level and the command crew’s room was just below the bridge.

Accommodations

As I’ve mentioned already, there are two main types of accommodations onboard the sathar vessel: community pools and individual pool beds.

For the lower caste sathar, the community pools on the main troop levels are the only accommodation available.  These huge pools are about two meters deep and fill most of the deck.  The pools are filled with a nutrient-rich fluid that gives it an almost slimy feeling.  Hence you’ll see them referred to as slime pools in some of the write-ups.  In addition to the soluble nutrients in the water, there are also mechanisms to release small animals/insects/etc. into the pool.  Thus the pool is both a living area and a feeding area for the sathar. 

When fully occupied, these pools are a writhing, seething mass of sathar bodies.  There is only about five cubic meters of pools space allocated per sathar, that’s just a little more than twice their body volume.  They are packed in fairly tight and constantly in contact with the other sathar in the pool.

The upper class sathar, on the other hand have individual pool beds.  These beds are filled with the same nutrient solution as the community pools but have separate feeding trough areas for the solid matter.  In addition, each pool bed has a built in computer/video system that is presumably for education and entertainment and possible for monitoring of ship functions as needed.  The exact use of these facilities is still unknown.

In addition to their pool beds, the upper class sathar have smaller community pools spaced around the ship.  These don’t have the mechanisms to release the solid food into the water and are presumably for social interactions between the sathar as no other common areas exist on the ship.

The middle class sathar have both a community pool like those of the lower class sathar as well as individual pool beds.  Their community pools is more spacious than that of the lower class sathar, having about 10 cubic meters per sathar available while their individual pool beds are a little smaller than those of the upper class sathar.

Both the pools and individual pool beds seal up in times of high or zero gee maneuvers and act as acceleration couches for the sathar within.  For each pool, there is a cover that descends from the ceiling of the deck to seal the pool and prevent the water from leaving the pool containment.  In the larger pools for the lower and middle class sathar, these covers are riddled with regularly spaced breathing masks.  The sathar simply swim up to them as the cover is descending and insert their heads into the masks.  This provides air while the pools are sealed.  The community pools for the upper class sathar lack these breathing masks and it is presumed that they are not intended to be occupied during zero or high gee maneuvers

The pool beds each have an individual cover that can be closed to contain the fluid inside.  Like the larger community pools, each pool bed contains a breathing mask that can be donned when the tank is fully closed.

Implications

Based on the layout of the sathar destroyer we have recovered, there are a number of implications about the other sathar vessels and their fleet composition and philosophy.

The Frigate

Seen from the perspective of the warship as a troop transport, it becomes apparent why the sathar favor the destroyer over the frigate while the UPF prefers the latter. 

A frigate is only about one third the size of a destroyer.  From the UPF perspective, this means that for a significantly lower cost, you can field a ship with slightly higher maneuverability and smaller crew and therefore lower operating expenses.  You sacrifice 20% of your weapons capability but since a frigate is roughly 20% cheaper than a destroyer as well, your cost to weapon ratio is the same while reducing operating expenses and spreading your weapons platforms among more hulls.  Thus it is more cost effective to field frigates for the UPF.

From the perspective of a troop transport, however, the frigate is practically useless.  At only one third the volume compared to the destroyer, there simply isn’t room for any troops.  All of the space is taken up by the machinery and crew needed to fly and fight the ship, with little room left over.  It might be possible to shoehorn a company sized unit and their shuttle into a frigate, especially given the propensity of the sathar to really pack in tight, but most likely that would be a stretch.  Thus, if the sathar see warships as a means of transporting ground troops, the frigate is too small and the destroyer makes much more sense.  They still have some frigates in their fleet, but they presumably serve a secondary role as escort ships to the larger vessels, much like the UPF Assault Scout does.

The Assault Scout and Cutter

This may also explain why the sathar had no real equivalent to the UPF Assault Scout during the Sathar War.  With a mindset that focused on transporting large numbers of ground troops, these smaller vessels have no value.  And so they never pursued that line of thought in development of their spacecraft.

The sathar cutter is a new ship we’ve been seeing recently and seems to be their first attempt at a ship along these lines as a response to the UPF Assault Scout.  Even smaller than a frigate, the cutter is also incapable of carrying troops and thus serves a new function in the Sathar space fleets.

The Light Cruiser

This is where things start to get interesting.  And scary at the same time.  The light cruiser is more than 10 times the volume of a destroyer.  Think about that for a moment.  Assume that the sathar are using all their ships for troop transports and that they are packing the troops in as tightly in the larger ships as they are in the destroyer.  If that is true, then the light cruiser is capable of transporting between five and six thousand sathar ground troops, their support creatures, and support vehicles.  That’s larger than many LandFleet units and it’s flying around on a single warship.

The Heavy Cruiser

And if that isn’t scary enough, let’s take a look at a heavy cruiser.  The Sathar heavy cruiser is about six times the volume of the light cruiser.  Again scaling things up, that means that the heavy cruiser is capable of transporting something between twenty-five and thirty thousand sathar ground troops.  That’s bigger than many Landfleet armies.

Other Data

While the numbers on the larger ships are pure speculation based on the ship sizes, these numbers are reasonable based on the few data points we have beyond the destroyer we recovered. 

First let’s look at the land battles in the Sathar War.  We know that the original invasion fleet that arrived in the Truane’s Star system was comprised of 12 heavy cruiser sized vessels, 16 light cruisers, 64 destroyers, and 16 frigates.  Assuming the numbers given above, that corresponds to a troop capacity of between 420 thousand and half a million sathar ground troops.  This correlates well with the estimates of nearly half a million troops in the Pale and Laco campaigns of that war.

The other datum we have is the recent Volturnus incident.  In that case, Spacefleet’s Strike Force Nova and the Truane’s Star militia engaged a sathar force consisting of 1 Heavy Cruiser, 4 Light Cruisers, 8 Destroyers, and 4 Frigates.  This represents a transport capacity of between 50 to 60 thousand ground troops which correlates well with the 30 thousand ground troops engaged on the surface after accounting for losses from the planetary defense system on Volturnus which destroyed nearly half of the incoming shuttles.

Thus the other data, and the fact that we’ve never seen a sathar ship that was a dedicated assault transport, also support the speculation that the sathar ships double as their troop transports and support the numbers presented.

Implications

What does this tell us about the sathar based on previous incidents? And what does this mean for future encounters?

Boarding Actions

Well, first, attempting to board a sathar warship, even if the opportunity presented itself, is practically a suicide mission.  If all those troops could be mobilized, any attacking force would be taken down by sheer numbers.

The marine contingent on a battleship might be able to take on the troops in a Destroyer, but it would take a couple of our Assault Transports to provide the force necessary to try to clear out even a light cruiser.

This new information makes the current practice of destroying the sathar vessel from a distance seem even more of a good idea.  As much as we’d like to capture some of their larger vessels, it’s most likely not going to be feasible.  And attempting to board could result in the loss of the UPF vessel if the crew is swarmed under.  However, the sathar still seem to prefer to self-destruct their vessels instead of even allowing a boarding attempt.  Perhaps this is because there is no easy mechanism to release the majority of the sathar being transported or they are not equipped or trained to fight in zero gee.

Invasion Danger

Given the number of troops on these ships, the possibility of an invasion from any sathar ship force is very real.  Recently, there have been sightings of sathar fleets in the outer reaches of some of the star systems in the Frontier.  There have been no confrontations to date but Spacefleet suspects that is only a matter of time.  The Sathar seem to be scouting but many times they are scouting in force.  Reported sightings range from a pair of destroyers up to small task forces consisting of a heavy cruiser, a light cruiser, a pair of destroyers, and a frigate. 

Given what we have learned and speculate based on the captured destroyer, the potential for an invasion or assault from one of these groups is large.  Even the pair of destroyers carries over a thousand sathar troops.  That’s enough to do seriously damage to, or overrun, almost any installation.  The large task forces are estimated to be carrying between 36 and 43 thousand troops.  That’s a small invasion army. 

Any sightings of sathar vessels should be reported immediately and these vessels should be avoided at all costs by civilian ships.

Disregard for Life

It is well known that the Sathar seem to have a great disregard for life.  They have no qualms about obliterating a civilization or razing a world.  It would seem that this disregard carries over into their own species. 

The fact that they willingly self-destruct their ships rather than be captured, even when there are hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of sathar on-board, indicates that they see their lives as cheap.

The thought is truly alien to us.  Maybe it is because the Sathar have a short lifespan, or maybe they have a high reproduction rate and their worlds are constantly overcrowded.  We simply don’t know.  But the sheer magnitude of slaughter of their own kind implied by the self-destruction of these troop carrying ships is mind-boggling.

Conclusions

There’s not much more to report at the moment.  The analysis of the sathar vessel is still on-going and probably will be for years.  New information will be announced as it is discovered.  While there is still much to learn, especially if we can crack their computer systems, what we have learned has given us some excellent insights into how the Sathar organize both their space and ground units.

Thank you for your attention.  Any questions?